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Staying Motivated in Distance Learning

Read an amazing piece written by one of our parents discussing how she conquers the distance learning with her kids and what activities she does in order to keep everybody on their track!

I have come to believe that in one form or another, distance learning is here to stay. Over the past year my family, and everyone I know, have experienced a huge online learning curve. While initially resistant, I’ve come to appreciate some new found flexibility and inspiration to innovate. I wish I could claim to have a full proof recipe for success. Some days feel easier than others. However, we have stumbled on a few, game changing habits to feed our motivation in distance learning.

My Husband and I Embraced the roles of Learning Coaches

A significant part of distance learning is in the name...distance. The concept of a “Learning Coach” is one that’s been around with online schools, long before Covid. No matter how talented the teachers are, my kids need someone in proximity to invest in their experience. Learning Coach duties in our house have not meant sitting side by side with the kids. At the end of a busy day, my husband and I might have 15 minutes (and limited energy) to spare. Regardless of how much time is spent, the goal is to deliver the clear and constant message that we think what they are doing is important and interesting.

We Created and Follow (most days) a Schedule

My husband set up a Google calendar that we all have access to. We have taught the kids how to modify the calendar and they have taken ownership of their commitments. The calendar includes their classes, but we also scheduled things like lunch and exercise. Ten months into the routine, the kids can anticipate their schedules and mostly refer to the calendar for zoom links. For mom and dad, the calendar has become an important planning tool in navigating our shared work, school, rest, and play space.

We Prioritize Activities that Make Us Happy

Each of my kids has a pastime that helps them reenergize. For one it’s reading, for the other it’s art. They naturally want to do these things everyday so all we have to do is support them in prioritizing it. These are activities that they actually added to their own calendars. Hopefully they are learning that self-care takes intent.

We Get off the Screen and Move our Bodies: I won’t pretend to know the science, but I do know there is science that draws connections between exercise and attitude. This includes one’s ability to focus and learn. Sitting and staring at a screen for hours takes its toll on our minds and bodies. We have assigned times throughout the day to get outside and move. On rare occasions, we can escape to explore a regional park for an hour or so. On most days we simply plan a bike ride, run, or walk around our neighborhood. Bottom line, “PE” is a non-negotiable, daily activity for the entire family.

Fun Days

We had a really rough week a few months ago. Everyone in the house was just feeling down and drained. So...sorry teachers...we decided to play hooky. I called in sick to work, emailed their teachers, and we had an “Outdoor School“ day. We drove to the beach, played in the sand, and talked about the wildlife. I don’t know if it was the sea air, the excitement of feeling like we were ”cheating” or just the change of pace, but our energy had been restored and all of us came back to work/school more focused. To stay ahead of hitting another wall, “fun days” have become a reoccurring event.

Hopefully, others can find something to relate to in my family's experience. Reflecting on this list, I might add “Invest in the community” as a 6th, wish list habit. We have always felt incredibly lucky to interact with exceptional teachers and friends through our kid’s schools. Raising word citizens has been an important goal for us. Now we have the chance to engage with the world in a way that would not be possible with brick and mortar schools. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity!

Written by Allison


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